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Potassium channels exhibit a modular design with distinct structural and functional domains; in particular, a highly conserved pore-loop sequence that determines their ionic selectivity. We now report the functional characterisation of a novel group of functionally non-selective members of the prokaryotic 'inward rectifier' subfamily of K(+) channels. These channels share all the key structural domains of eukaryotic and prokaryotic Kir/KirBac channels, but instead possess unique pore-loop selectivity filter sequences unrelated to any other known ionic selectivity filter. The strikingly unusual architecture of these 'NirBac' channels defines a new family of functionally non-selective ion channels, and also provides important insights into the modular design of ion channels, as well as the evolution of ionic selectivity within this superfamily of tetrameric cation channels.

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Amino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, Evolution, Molecular, Ion Transport, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Myxococcales, Phylogeny, Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Recombinant Proteins